The Chapman Report
The Golden Gate Lotus Club
PO Box 117303 Burlingame, CA 94011
Published by the Golden Gate Lotus Club
Friday January 15, 1999
December now, so this must be my twelfth issue. Itís been a great year for the GGLC that should accelerate even more over the next twelve months. Scott Hogben will be our new president and heís promised at least two track events and a West Coast Lotus Meet.
Next month the CR will be brought to you by Daren Stone. Daren and myself have agreed to share responsibility for this rag by switching-off every other month. With input from both of us, Iím sure the CR will improve a great deal in both content and promptness.
Getting away from the CR every other month will give me time to finally complete the latest installment of my "Building the Ultimate Europa" series. In Part 3, I had finished fabrication of the new rear suspension with upper link and dual trailing arms, but left you all wondering about how I did the rear disks and drivetrain. Itís important for me to catch up on my writing since Iíve taken the car apart again to begin the next phase.
This latest interation of the UR will include a full SCCA roll cage, new dashboard and instruments, all new wiring, larger vented front rotors, and something with the Cosworth (replace or rebuild). These changes should finally turn the car into the true UR Ė fast, dependable, and safe. Of course none of this would ever happen without a deadline looming ever so close...
The West Coast Lotus Meet Executive committee is currently planning our big event for Ď99. Details and dates havenít been finalized, but you can be sure the UR will be there burning rubber and sliding around the track (whatever track that might be). Letís face it folks, the best way to enjoy your Lotus is on the track, and the new administration is gung-ho on setting up some dates at Sears, Thunderhill, Buttonwillow, and maybe even Las Vegas Speedway.
No excuses Ė Ď99 is the year to drive.
See ya, John
Forty plus revelers (including Texas-transplant Steve Brightman) were in attendance for this year's GGLC holiday party, Saturday December 5th at Pacific Fresh in Sunnyvale. Food, foolishness and festivities abounded as we rang out the old and rang in the new. Has it already been twelve months since I took office, full of big ideas and a little apprehension? It has, and a busy year it's been ...
As a marque we've celebrated our 50th year, driven Elises in the UK, seen a few on the road in the US, and are keeping our fingers crossed. As a club we've seen our membership grow by over 10%.
1999 President Scott Hogben got his Seven on the road, it's maiden voyage being the drive to the 20th All British Field Meet at Palo Alto, making 53 Lotus' in all. The GGLC turned 26. Jon Rosner got married, Barry moved his shop, and we now have a Web page (thanks to Kiyoshi & Joel). John Zender fragged the motor in his Esprit, and rebuilt the Flamer Europa, again, and again. Joe Dyer bought a BMW, Kiyoshi's 41 got bent, and although my Europa still has cat tracks in the paint, at least I no longer have the Studebaker. I could go on, but you get the picture. It's been a busy year, and a great one.
I truly appreciate all of your support this year, and hope you enjoyed it as much as I have. I now hand the Presidential torch over to Mr. Scott Hogben. If you need me I'll be out in the garage, sanding out cat prints.
By Scott Hogben
Yes, your worst fears have been confirmed! I AM the 1999 GGLC President! Itís been fun being the VP and now I move up the ladder to that coveted position of President. Iíd like to point out that the ritual abuse begins with the new calendar year in January, so donít leave out any last bit of harassment for the current Prez, I wouldnít want Daren to be neglected in his last moments.
Now Iíd like to refresh your memory about an article I wrote earlier this year because I said Iíd come back to it if a certain thing didnít happen. Some of you may remember when I got angry about the automotive magazines in this country and how they always neglect Lotus in favor of Porsches and Ferraris. This was a particularly important year because of the 50th anniversary of Lotus. Well, here it is, the end of the year and the only magazine I noticed that recognized the anniversary was European Car Magazine. If you havenít seen this publication, they cater to the German brands such as VW, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes. I found it odd, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a small article covering our cars. I may have missed articles in other magazines but Iíve mainly been looking to see if Road & Track would have decent coverage because theyíve been around for so long and they seem to have good pictures and articles on other marques. In addition, Iíve always felt that we had a "man on the inside" rooting for us at R&T with Peter Egan and his Seven adventures. I was sadly disappointed. Those of you who subscribe saw their weak article in the December issue. It was so bad that I took it upon myself to write a letter to the editor to complain about the poor job they did. Iím submitting it to you all in the CR in case they donít print it in the coming issues. My article last month, where I vented about the motor choice Lotus made for the US-spec Elise, was simply my opinion. But the letter I wrote to R&T had to do with giving Lotus credit for profoundly affecting the Grand Prix race car as well as sports cars for the road. To me, itís as if they left the chapters pertaining to the industrial revolution out of the history books!
My argument is that Lotusí contribution to racing and sports cars is not an opinion, itís a fact. They shouldnít be overlooked because their cars donít have red paint and 12 cylinders, or because they donít sell tens of thousands of units per year of a car with an air-cooled engine placed on the wrong side of the rear axle. Itís automotive immorality, plain and simple.
I encourage all of you to write a letter to R&T, or whatever publication is your favorite who missed the 50th, and remind them of the impact that Lotus has made on the modern race car and sports car. Happy Holidays and see you at the next meeting!
LETTER TO ROAD & TRACK
Shame on you Road & Track! As a complete Lotus-phile Iíve been waiting all year to see how you would cover the 50th anniversary of Lotus and I must say that Iím sorely disappointed, but not surprised. Unfortunately, it has been a historical fact that motoring magazines in the U.S. have neglected to honor Lotus while other larger names such as Porsche and Ferrari have monthly 2-4 page articles. How can this be when Lotus has contributed more to the modern Grand Prix car than either one of these marques? Sadly, it appears that it has to do with numbers of units sold and the number of cylinders the engine has.
It was the brilliance of Colin Chapman and those who worked with him at Lotus that so profoundly affected the design of the modern single seat formula car with the introduction of such innovations as the monocoque chassis, ground effects, and active-ride suspension, to name just a few. From such innovations came seven constructorís world championships and an Indianapolis 500 win; an achievement which cannot be shared by Porsche nor Ferrari. Your diminutive picture of LOG 18 with the two accompanying meager paragraphs in the December issue is an insult to what is arguably Britainís most famous Grand Prix marque. In one of the feature articles you tested the Elise and raved about its performance and handling; how ironic that you chose that same issue to belittle Lotusí historical significance in racing and modern road cars. The story of Lotus is a true story of David slaying the Goliaths, and it is sad, to say the least, that one of the greatest sports car companies and racing teams in the world has been reduced to a mere footnote in your publication.
Vice President Golden Gate Lotus Club
Say It Is So!
By Alan Perry
In the November issue of The Chapman Report, president-elect Scott Hogben did a great deal of whining about why he doesn't think it is a good idea that the Elise be fitted with a Honda VTEC motor. Well, I think he is wrong and is being silly about the whole thing.
To start with, I believe that his implication that Chapman sacrificed when he selected the Renault motor for the early Europas is bogus. He got a good deal on the engines and was able to lessen his dependence on Ford. Obviously I never discussed this with Chapman, but everything that I have read about him would indicate that he was not concerned where the engines came from. He seemed more concerned about costs and performance.
Obviously I disagree with much of what Scott wrote, but my main criticism is directed at his attack on Honda.
I have liked Honda for quite a while. I have owned two and if I wasn't limiting my cars to the number of garage bays at my house I would own one now.
My first Honda was a 1977 Civic with many, many miles on it. It was really fun to drive. It was light and nimble. OK, it also had wicked torque steer, but that was part of the fun. (It had a little problem in that it had suffered a bad rebuild, so there was a half inch of front-to-back play in the crank so the flywheel was slowly machining away the block and it was tough to keep the clutch adjusted, but it ran great in spite of this.) The second one was a 1989 Civic and it was the best put-together car that I have ever owned. It ran flawlessly and I only sold it to get the money to buy my current Europa. By the way, the interiors of both cars held up just fine.
In my opinion, more than any other Japanese auto maker, Honda has a racing tradition. Soichiro Honda built and drove race cars in the 20s and 30s until he suffered a career ending injury. In 1949, Honda started making motorcycles, in 1954, Honda made it a company goal to win the Isle of Man TT and in the early 60s they did. Before Honda was building cars, the company built the Suzuka race circuit. When they first competed in Formula One in the 60s, Honda built their own car and even won a couple races.
Honda returned to Formula One in the 80s and was dominant until they left. And now they are the dominant engine in CART and will be back in Formula One with their own team soon. This is just the tip of the iceberg in Honda's racing history.
One criticism of Japanese companies is that they don't innovate, they copy, but I think Honda has been an innovator. When everyone was cleaning up vehicle emissions by adding on a catalytic converter, Honda did it by redesigning the head with CVCC. Honda also applied innovation to their use of variable valve timing on the VTEC.
On the other hand, in recent years, I think Honda has gotten away from their racing roots and made some pretty boring cars. Their return to factory-backed racing and the introduction of the S2000 indicates that they have come to their senses.
I really didn't intend this to be a Honda commercial, but Scott made some pretty harsh statements that I couldn't let go unchallenged.
So, what engine should go in the US version of the Elise? The VTEC motor for the S2000 puts out 240 bhp, is tractable enough for road use, revs to 9000 rpm and (in the S2000) puts out LEV levels of emissions. Is Europe (let alone England) offering anything close? No, the VTEC sounds like a fine Elise motor to me.
The Toddler Rallye
By Jon Rosner
Sunday, December 12th turned out to be the first sunny and glorious day in a December of rain, rain and generally mucky weather. And a good day to do a fund raiser for the Washington Township Volunteer Bureau. Since the days before Presidential resignations, President's tripping down flight stairs and President's lusting after the Poles, Harriet Giddings and later Kiyoshi Hamai have been organizing annual "gimmick ralleyes" where the charge to participate has been one unwrapped toy valued at over $10.
Why a toy ? Because unfortunately there are lots of kids out there whose parents make too much for welfare benefits and too little to more than barely make ends meet, families who are really in dire need. Tom Carney called it right, "For the kids that Santa lost their address."
SOOOO....GGLC, the local Triumph, Datsun and other car clubs pitch in to make it happen. With a quick e-mail Kiyoshi had commitments from Don Nestor, Tom Carney, Scott Hogben, Daren Stone, Barry Spencer and Steve Brightman who joined us from Texas, but neglected to pack his M100 Elan !
By 11:30 Sunday morning the hood of Harriet Gidding's Volvo was covered with colorful presents, matchbox type car sets, model cars, remote control cars, paint a car kit, Crayola coloring fun kit, at least two types of "Elmo" dolls, warm and fuzzy plush bears, Millenium Falcon Soundblaster, Beadblast Barbie and a rainbow of other gifts.
TR3A, TR 250, Mercedes SLK, Corvette, van after van, station wagons of families ready to argue over whether a clue was real or full of baloney, and road workers guaranteed to"maybe" tell you the right way to go. Of course there was lots of laughter and tall tales at the pizza shop at the end of the route.
This is the one socially redeeming event the GGLC gets involved in every year. This year we had maybe 27 participating vehicles and dozens of nice gifts to send along. So if you ever had the urge to just "get lost" and help a great charity at the same time, then note this date for next year !
Formula Vee Birthday Party
By Dick Ryan
And so it starts, Flash Racingís longest trip to date. We are headed to the 35th Formula Vee Birthday Party at Elkhart Lake. Doug Johnson is driving our van with his trailer and the two race cars to Manhattan, KS, and then up to Road America and back home. Flashy and Flash are flying out and back.
Driverís log-stardate July 5 - Challenge #1 The Test Load
Ever try to load two race cars on a 1-1/2 car trailer? "If we put your car sideways it will only stick over 1-1/2 feet on each side". "We can stack your front tires on top of my rear tires." "Letís put the rear of your car on the trailer and let the front hang off and roll on the pavement." "If we take off your front beam, your car will be shorter." - we got it to work.
Driverís log - stardate July 8 - challenge #2:
Put all the spares and gear for two race cars into the space normally occupied by one carís stuff. Can we leave your wife home? Do you really need your helmet?" "Yes, I really need my Dzus wrench." "Why do you want to take spare tires; you have never had a flat in your life."
Driverís log - stardate July 15 - Challenge #3: Keeping the oil pressure up.
Yes, the cars made it to road America. Doug did have some minor problems though. His plan was to run a one day SCCA Regional at Heartland Park in Topeka, KS. Six laps into the first practice, his car chose not to shift anymore. That meant that his two-day vacation that was supposed to be spent with his mom was spent, instead, rebuilding his transmission.
Today was set up as three one-half hour practice sessions. For the first, I went out on old tires. (No need to go real fast first time out.) One of the tires was out of balance. Even at "not real fast" it shook so badly it blurred my vision. At least I got to see the track and which turns were lefts and rights.
Second session good tires and steady as a rock. At mid-session the oil temp started going up and the oil pressure down. Iíll bet the fan belt came off. Go visit the grass. Sure enough, beltís off. Why put a new one on? The old one looks perfectly okay. (As someone said later, "did you expect it to heal itself?"
Third session, Third shift-THWACK. Iíll bet that was the belt coming off. It was. Oh well, thatís why they call them practice sessions. You can practice stupid repairs.
Driverís Log - Stardate July 16 - Challenge #4:
Remembering brake markers.
New day, new fan belt, no oil pressure problems. Now I get to practice. The carousel (T10 at Road America) is a 200' right U-turn taken at about 4,000 RPM in fourth. It takes about 16 seconds to complete it. (I know, I timed it on the video tape). Think about all the engine oil on the left side of the motor, and none in the oil pump suction tube. The trick is to fill the crankcase just about up to the top with oil so you canít run out of oil pressure at the end of the turn. The first two sessions I stared at the gauge the entire turn and not at the apexes.
T1 -brake and shift into 3rd
Hurry Downs - brake for T7
Kink - quick, hard brake
Canada Corner - hard braking and shift into third
Thunder Valley - shift into 3rd
After a short talk with Bill Noble:
T1 - Probably WFO in 4th
but short lift at #1 marker to start with
Hurry Downs - WFO, no sweat
Kink - WFO, no sweat
Canada Corner - hard brake, late apex, WFO in 3rd
Thunder Valley - WFO in 4th
Second session: Knocked two or three seconds off. Not too bad. Did I use #1 or #2 as the brake marker for this turn? Did I use #1 or #2 as the brake marker for this one? Did I use #1 or #2 as the marker for this one? Damn, this track has a lot of turns. In a half hour session, you only get seven or eight tries at each corner and when you canít remember braking points, you tend to have erratic times.
It was a great session passing lots of cars with lots of cars passing me. I tried to race people and that probably didnít help my times either. A few people, I wonít mention names, had that mechanical flaw that affects us all sooner or later - not enough fuel in the tank. The white car and the black car probably wonít do that again for a while.
Driverís log Stardate July 18 - Challenge #5: The start.
Only one session today - a qualifying race. I am 20th in a 40 car grid. This is the largest starting grid of equal speed potential cars that Is have seen since my regional career of 20+ years ago. T1 should be a side show. At least at Sears Point we are going 30 or 40 MPH slower at T1.
We had a clean start. I wimped out at T1 and 3 or 4 cars got past. I got a few back at T5 and one at T8. The rest of the race was a blur of passing, being passed, and a few spinning cars. I saw Doug pull off at T5. He had a bad misfire. Knocked another second off.
Driverís log - Stardate July 19 - Race Day Challenge #6: Drafting
The vintage group decided to have a split start. The group B cars, the non-perfect ones (all 8 of us) (my recaps put me in this group even though my times put me mid-pack with the perfect cars) started in the front. The perfect cars started about a mile behind us.
I was 6th and mike Wilfley (pronounced will fly) in his Colorado rocket ship was right behind me. He quickly drafted past me before the front straight hill. Now I was at the back of a tight 8 car dicing pack heading for T1 at about 100 MPH. I made a really smart move and backed out early. Then Mike did fly. He touched wheels with another car. The silver D-13 rotated its nose toward the sun and all 4 wheels lifted off. He got landing clearance from the tower put it down without incident. After a stop, he continued on.
Braking for Canada, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but petunia, the Shadowfax and Rich Ernst. They were right on my gearbox at the turn-in for T14 on to the front straight. It takes 40 seconds to go up the front straight. Zip, zip, and zip. They went by and I tucked in behind Rich. We went up the hill and past the starters stand about 400 or 500 RPM faster than I had ever gone before. This is starting to get uncomfortable. WFO, well over 100 MPH, less than 3 inches behind the car in front of me, and the markers going 4-3-2 very quickly. I wimp out and back off. They go through like a 12 wheeled choo choo. I lost 25 yards in 30 yards of track. But I learned two lessons-WFO and their line.
Later, two more guys passed me exiting T14 and I tucked in behind. Here we go again. About half way to the starterís stand, the guy in front sticks his hand in the air and makes the okay sign. Toto, we are not at Sears Point anymore. WFO, over 100, 3" between cars and this guy is having fun. Some day I will get used to this and have fun at it too. Knocked another second off. Dougís race ended early when his motor went rattle, rattle. I believe 2 or 3 other vintage cars lost motors this weekend.
In the contemporary Vee race, the guys used a zero clearance drafting technique (NASCAR calls it bump drafting). The sight of 7 cars going down into T5 with their noses shoved up into the butt of the car in front (like a string of horny dogs) is hard to describe. You must really trust the other guy to do that. They said that bump drafting reduced their lap times by 3 seconds.
A few cars actually changed owners this weekend. Could you sell your race car during a race weekend? I couldnít do that. I love my race car. (Okay, okay, for enough money, I would sell Flashy - ouch, that hurt!)
We got to see the first ever Formula Vee. Hubert Brudageís Nardi was at the party. It looks like a formcar. (Of course, it does stupid, Colonel Smith and Bill Duckworth modeled the Formcar after the Nardi.)
The contemporary group had about 80 entrants. They included the national champions from Germany, UK, South Africa, and Equador. About 10 drivers in total were from outside the USA, and there were more Vees from California than any other state.
We (all Vee people, not just the group at Road America) owe Ron Ruttenberg and Butch Deer (of DRE) a huge bucket of thank yous. If it wasnít for their efforts, none of the birthday parties would have happened. Thank you DRE. Also, thanks to Hoosier Tires, Bill and Lisa Noble, Cornish Enterprises, and Lybarger Racing Enterprises for their contributions.
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For Sale Autoscan (FMC) 4050IR auto diagnostics station; dwell, tach, CO, HC. 41w x 20d x 55h, weighs at least as much as a waterbed, but at least it is on wheels. Don't know if it works, but at this price
who cares. $1.00 firm, cash only, no trades, you pick up (there's the catch). Located in Sunnyvale. Daren (firstname.lastname@example.org) or wk: (408) 527-5044
Wanted: Used Europa TC chassis with good backbone and rear section, front end donít matter.John (650) 368-9105
Wanted: serviceable Ford 1600 X-flow block to be bored out. John (650) 368-9105
1990 Caterham Super Seven S3, LHD, long cockpit chassis, de Dion, 5 speed, limited slip diff, heated and tinted windscreen, aluminum bell housing, steel braided lines, BRG with yellow and BRG noses, 4 wheel discs, 10K miles. Kent 1750cc super sprint with forged pistons, aluminum roller rockers, flow benched head. 6.5 x 15 Prisoner alloy wheels, standard and FIA roll bars, adjustable rear sway bar, Spax adjustables, 4 Keizer 3 pc 13 x 8 wheels, Brooklands windscreen. $27,500. John Lefcourte, (702) 829-8589 email@example.com
For Sale: 1969 Elan S4, daily driver. 11,000 miles on big valve, mildly modified engine by Rich Kamp (130-135 hp). Excellent mechanicals, clean body, old paint, original interior. $14,000 Ed King evking@KINGandHIGGINS.com (415) 781-2888
1969 Lotus Elan +2, 3500 miles on rebuilt twin-cam and close ratio four speed. (Rebuilt to Big Valve Spec). New Minilites, 008 tires, brakes, Spax shocks, drive train donuts, all new front suspension and steering linkage, new dash and instrument panel, and fresh Lotus computer-matched red paint. This car is ready for daily driving, or vintage racing, with a few modifications. Total of 69500 miles since new. $9500 or best offer. Bob Coover (510-531-1765)